Conowingo Dam Flood Gates Open Again After Record Rainfall - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Conowingo Dam Flood Gates Open Again After Record Rainfall

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DARLINGTON, Md. - Many people who work and rely on the Chesapeake Bay are saying: "Here we go again." Following recent record rainfall, at least 12 more gates of the Conowingo Dam in northern Maryland are open this week, allowing more water from Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River to flow into the bay.

With the freshwater, comes more sediment and pollution. Now, watermen and seafood business owners say their livelihoods on the Chesapeake Bay are in danger.

Business owners like Harris Seafood owner Jason Ruth says his business is taking a hit, wiping out white clam sales and possibly soon, oysters.

"Since I've been here, I've never seen this volume of relentless rain weeks over weeks," Ruth said. "It's been terrible all year long and really stunted the growth of oysters throughout the bay. I think the oysters are just holding on for dear life right now."

Oysters aren't the only things suffering. Watermen who crab and fish in lower Dorchester County fear crabs and rockfish will swim away from all the freshwater, leaving them with little to catch and harvest through the season.

Rob Newberry of the Delmarva Fisheries Association says he's fed up watching time and time again little being done to clean what's behind the dam.

"It ain't getting better. It's going to get worse," Newberry said. "My prediction is, in another ten days, the gates are going to be open again and we're going to be back on the same problem. We can't take this repetition of discharge of phosphorous and nitrogen and pollutants into the Bay."

Earlier this year, Maryland's Department of the Environment issued a Water Quality Certification, demanding Exelon, the dam's owner, do more to lessen the pollution. But Newberry argues the state should take more legal action to cleanup the mess.

Exelon filed two lawsuits against Maryland over the Water Quality Certification earlier this year. One of those lawsuits has since been thrown by a Baltimore Circuit Court judge.

In August, leaders from Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection said they would do more to stop debris and pollution during heavy rain events.


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